Holy Week

palm sundayYesterday was Palm Sunday: the day we remember our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on the foal of a donkey . . . knowing full well that His way ultimately led to the cross on Calvary’s Hill.

Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

Let’s dwell on this passage for a moment and drink in the overwhelming humility of the Lord Jesus Christ! He didn’t ride into Jerusalem on a nobleman’s stallion or in a conqueror’s chariot. No, Jesus rode on the foal of a donkey, so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled—the Scriptures He wrote (2 Timothy 3:16). And He wrote into the script the most unlikely of animals to carry the King of kings and Lord of lords upon his back.

You will remember that the people were filled with excitement and enthusiasm; they made it known to all who were in earshot: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they cried. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9).

Hosanna means “save now,” and that is exactly what these people were anticipating: salvation now from the repressive rule of Rome. The people also made their joy known to all those who could see, greeting their King by waving palm branches and laying them as a covering for the path He was riding on.

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:12-13).

Palm branches were symbolic of goodness and victory in that day. Revelation 7 describes how people from every nation will raise palm branches to honor Jesus. During Holy Week, the people were waving branches to honor the Messiah, eagerly anticipating a smashing triumph over the hated Roman oppressor . . . not a triumph over sin. They were expecting a political leader and military messiah who would restore Israel to her former glory. They gave absolutely no thought to the notion of a Suffering Servant who would take away the sins of the world.

Just five days later, when the people realized that Jesus would not be expelling the Roman conqueror, their shouts of praise turned into screams of condemnation: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21). Before the fresh-cut palm branches had lost their healthy green color, the people were seeking the death of the One who had come to give them life.

Jesus was undeterred. He was on a mission, and He would not let anything stand in His way—neither the applause of men nor their condemning cries. He was in the dead center of the will of His Father . . . and in a few days He would be hanging from a cruel cross, naked and bleeding, gasping out His last agonized breaths.

Regardless of where this finds you today as we continue advancing through Holy Week, take some time to reflect on the One who came in unimaginable humility to conquer both sin and death so that you might have eternal life. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross,” Scripture tells us, “scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


[1] “Hallelujah! What a Savior,” by Philips Bliss, 1875.

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